History of Ecorse

Ecorse, formerly known as “River Aux Echorches,” is a city in Wayne County, Michigan.  It is located on the Detroit River seven miles S.S.W. of Detroit. Ecorse is an industrial and residential community.

Ecorse has a very colorful background, which dates back to 1763.  It was then that the great Pontiac and another allied Indian chief called Wyandotte meet to form the famous plot to rid the Midwest of the trespassing white settlers.  It was also known as a favorite burying ground of the local Indian tribes, who dwelt along Lake Huron and Lake Erie.

The original name, “River Aux Echorches,” is derived from the early French settlers who named the city “The River of the Barks.” The city was named that because the Indians gathered there by a small stream, which is now the Ecorse River, to strip bark for their canoes.  The French later lay claim to the development of Ecorse.  Presently, their influence has largely disappeared from the community leaving only certain street names such as Bondie, Bourassa, Cicotte, Labadie, LeBlanc, and Salliotte, as signs of their culture.  White settlements were made during the period between 1784 and 1797.

The settlement at “River Aux Echorches,” was an outgrowth of the settlements of Detroit and Sandwich, Ontario.  The first new nationality added to this French community was the Goodell family.  Elijah Goodell was born in England in 1758, and came to Michigan in 1799.  In 1818, he purchased a farm in Ecorse Township on the Detroit River from Louis Leduc, and settled there.  James Goodell inherited his father’s farm in 1820 and in 1822 he married Angelique Salliotte, a granddaughter of the original J. B. Salliotte.

Around this period, “River Aux Echorches,” which had come to be known as Grandport, was incorporated as a village under the name of Ecorse.  Alexis M.Salliotte was the first president, who was followed by many other good men. Alfred C. Bouchard, our ninth president, held office longer than any other president, which was a period of five and one-half terms. His sixth term was interrupted by his death in September 1928.

On July 5, 1923, the first steel was rolled at the Michigan Steel Mill, and a new era dawned in the downriver community.  At that time, five hundred men were employed in this new industry.  Other industries came to Ecorse during the late twenties and early thirties.

Ecorse became a city on September 19, 1941 and adopted a City Charter on January 27, 1942.  W. Newton Hawkins was the first mayor of Ecorse.  After becoming a city, the population grew larger and larger.  At the present time, most of the nationalities that make up our national pattern can be found here.

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need. ~Marcus Tullius Cicero